How to Keep Your Cell Phone Working During a Power Outage

When you lose power for hours, days, or even weeks, how do you stay connected with your loved ones who live far away? Your cell phone may work for a little while, but smartphones are not known for their long battery life – yours could be dead within hours. Here are some ways you can recharge yours until the electricity kicks back on.

  1. Cell Phone Charging Stations

    – During long term power outages, some cities or areas bring in mobile phone charging stations. This cell phone charging station would be in an area where a generator can provide electricity – these charging stations usually deliver as much power as your cell phone can handle in order to charge as quickly as possible.

  2. Neighbors with Generators

    – If you do not have a generator, your neighbor might – many people have invested in generators, especially after the recent hurricanes Sandy and Irene.  Generators run on gasoline, so many people don’t use them unless absolutely necessary – but it wouldn’t hurt to ask your neighbor, relative, or colleague if you can quickly charge your phone.

  3. Laptops

    – If you have a laptop with a little bit of power left, you can plug your phone’s USB cord into your laptop to charge. If the power is out, your laptop won’t be much use if you’re trying to communicate (since there is no electricity to power a modem or router to connect to the internet), but your phone should still have cellular service.

  4. Solar Powered Chargers or Backup Batteries

    – A solar powered charger or a backup battery (a phone case charger, a backup battery that plugs into your charging port, etc) will work well – of course this requires foresight because you have to own one and keep it charged. But if you make sure you keep one handy, it will give you enough power to use your cell phone for emergencies.

  5. Car Chargers

    – If you have a car charger, you car will work as a generator as a last resort. If you only need enough battery to make a phone call, you can try charging your phone from the car’s battery without starting the engine – but don’t do this for too long because it can drain your car’s battery. If you need to stay connected, you can start the car and charge from the engine- this isn’t ideal because car engines are obviously intended to drive the car rather than create electricity, but it can be done in a pinch. Just don’t forget to open the garage door first!

When you do not have a way to charge your phone, take the same steps you usually would in order to preserve battery life- close all applications, lower the screen brightness all the way down, shut off wireless connections like Bluetooth and WiFi, and also make sure you shut off your 3G, 4G, or LTE connection – this uses more energy than older cellular signals, which won’t let you connect to the Internet but will still make and receive phone calls and text messages.

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